Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | April 24, 2007

Networking: Non-Traditional Networking – Part 4

I love people, so there are parts of networking that I really like, hence the title of this blog. Since no one gave me a definitive rulebook on Networking, I decided I could create my own rules.  No promises they are new, just that I think they aren’t always thought of.

This is Part 4 of a ?? Part Series on Non-Traditional Networking Ideas:

**** Segregate Your Network *******

In part 4 of this series I want to discuss a topic I learned the hard way.  Segregate your network.

Unless you own or a partner in your company/business, you must practice some steps to segregate your network from your current company.  I spent 6 1/2 years working for a single company in a leadership role, I built what I considered a very respectable network of people in the industry and in my field based on how they could contribute or I could help them contribute to the success of our goals and targets.  When I seperated from the company, I quickly found out that my network wasn’t very “diverse”. 

I’m going to use the “business definition” of diverse here, not the EEOC definition.  I read an article many years ago, I apologize that I don’t remember where or when so I can’t give proper attribution, that defined it for me.  If you look around your meeting room and everyone is wearing the same blue suit, has the same PDA’s, attended the same schools, and provides the same approach to every issue, then you are NOT diverse regardless of whether the ethnic and gender proportions are diverse.

When you network, you should Network as YOU.  I network as Lane Cavalier, Leader and Change Agent with a Technology Background.  I DO NOT network as Lane Cavalier, Managing Consultant for USFC Corporation (acronym is used to thwart search attempts on company name – see!). 

Of course I have networking contacts that are specific to my job, in the course of doing my job I meet a lot of interesting people of whom I think highly, but my dealings with them are as a customer or vendor.  I represent the company when I meet and talk with them and act as a company agent, providing them with the highest level of service that I possibly can.

When I network on the Internet or at meetings, I represent me.  I share what I do and who I do it for, but I do not act as a sales agent for the company.  In the event that my company can provide value to a network connection, I will mention it and help expedite any solutions we can provide, but that is not my foremost priority.  My priority is helping the network connection find the BEST solution to their problem.

There are many cases of bleed through with this stance, but I work very hard to manage them.  You need to take each situation differently.  IE:  When sending invitations out to the Schaumburg Social gatherings I’ve been organizing, I had a number of people that I did not invite because my context with them has always been only as a representative of my company. 

A few of these individuals have extended to have other contact with me of topics not related directly to my assignment, at that point I view them as a potential network contact as well, but not until they have approached me or until we have had at least one significant discussion outside of the “contracted services” that I am providing.

Remember that jobs and companies come and go, but the core of your network needs to know your value and skills, not just as they relate to your current employer.

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